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On the Meaning of the word "Observing"
#1
Hello everyone,

In recent years there has been a trend in amateur astronomy that I find to be needlessly confusing. That is the trend toward calling visual observation "observing." This appears to be driven by the amateur imagers among us, who are looking for a quick counter to the word "imaging." 

The problem is that this is a misuse of the word "observing." Consider that professional astronomers are broken into two main camps: theoreticians, and those who do observational astronomy. When an observational astronomer uses a telescope, regardless of what instrument is attached, he/she is said to be "observing" and making "observations," and this has not meant looking through a telescope in a very long time. In short, observing is the collection of observational data as opposed to theory. In my opinion, it should not be used to describe looking through the telescope only.
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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#2
This got me thinking of guy at a public sky watch, how set-up for "imaging". He said as response to something I forgot:
"I'm not an astronomer, I'm a photographer."  

Observation does not describe the "how" but the "what". Visual observation can be done with or without tools, still, it's only light what get's sensed and processed.

Logic get's lost in the language.

Good observation there Greg.

/Ronny
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#3
More ranting from me about misuse of terms. So now its happening to the word "Imaging" too. Just today I read a fellow who said that his telescope was primarily used for science, but could also be used for imaging. The only instrument on this telescope is a camera.

Clearly people are searching for shorter ways to say visual observing and, I don't know, pretty picture imaging? But imaging means taking images with a camera, regardless of the purpose, just as astronomical viewing, sketching, imaging, spectra, interferometry measurements, and waiting for LIGO detections are all observing.

So somebody come up with a way to describe "pretty picture imaging" before things get even more muddled than they already are!

Oh wait, how about astrophotography. For goodness sakes.
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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